Category Archives: NBA

Why The Lakers Lost to the Suns

What happened to the Lakers in the NBA this season wasn’t the Hollywood ending that many expected. The Suns melted their hope of repeating as champs. But  LeBron James (LBJ) and the Lakers have nothing to be ashamed of because if you understand basketball and you’re not a LEBRON HATER, you know why they’re not supposed to get past the first round after what happened in Game 3 of the series. It was a game they won, but ironically, it was when they lost the series. It was a battle they won but it made them lost the war.

Does Booker and the Suns beating LeBron and the Lakers mean that they are the better team? I am of the opinion that it does not. Of course you would say that this is just the LeBron diehard in me expressing a sentiment.

Skip Bayless and his disciples – the legion of LeBron haters – were quick to crucify the leader of  the Lakers for that early playoff exit. They will most certainly be calling him again “the washed king,” a label they  grudgingly swallowed like a bitter pill when in 2020 he led the Purple and Gold to their 17th NBA title.

Why did the Lakers lose to the Suns?

Go back to  Game 3 of the series.  If you are indeed a fan of basketball and not just waiting for LeBron to fail, you would have noticed three significant takeaways in that game.

Firstly, it revealed the formula in beating the Suns – inside the paint. Knowing how atrocious is their team’s outside shooting this season, particularly from beyond the arc, Vogel and his coaching staff figured that they have to use their advantage in size. The Lakers outshone the Suns in the paint 58-38 with  Anthony Davis (AD) and LBJ leading the charge. Check the statistics of that game and you’ll see also that Chris Paul and company were outrebounded 51 – 35. Now, remove AD from the equation. What would happen to that advantage in inside scoring and rebounding?

In games 1 to 3, AD had this points-rebounds-assists-blocks stat line – 27-9-4-2.

That brings us to the second takeaway from Game 3 – AD’s injury. That happened when he tried to block from behind Booker’s lay-up late in the 2nd quarter. While he may have finished the game, those who understand the nature of injuries in basketball, knew that AD will feel the effects of that injury after the game. True enough, in Game 4, he was not himself, did not play in Game 5, and logged in only 5 minutes in Game 6. That means that the Lakers’ season was pretty much over after Game 3. Why? Where would his team get the 27 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals per game that AD contributed  during the first 3 games? 

That question leads us to the third takeaway – Dennis Schorder’s performance. In Game 3 which the Lakers won, he scored 20 points. He was supposed to be the third most reliable scorer and backup playmaker. The reason the Lakers acquired him, sacrificing Danny Green and a future draft pick in the process, is to take some pressure off LBJ and AD. But he was surprisingly inconsistent in his performance throughout the series. In the 2 games that the Lakers won, he averaged 22 points per game. In their 4 losses, he scored 10.5 per game. He did not score a single point in the pivotal game 5 where they scored only 85 against the Sun’s 115. And it was that game that AD did not play.

What exacerbated matters for the Lakers was the fact that it wasn’t AD only who got injured in Game 3.  Cadwell Pope got hurt as well. In case you haven’t noticed, he was  the most reliable defender against Booker. In Pope’s absence and his ability to defend  compromised when he returned, Booker averaged 31.33 points in Games 4, 5, & 6.

Generally, those injuries to AD and Pope in Game 3 very much encapsulated Lakers’ injury-plagued season. Don’t forget that LBJ himself was out for a long time because of ankle injury and it was not only in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Suns that AD was injured, not to mention the games that Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol missed because of COVID-19 protocols. Just imagine how those injuries and missed games by the said players affected the building of team chemistry. Thus, even if they would have eclipsed the Suns in the first round, which they had high probability of accomplishing had Davis not suffered that injury, getting deeper into the playoffs and possibly the championship is almost a losing proposition.

And by the way, LeBron, at 36 and probably not playing at 100% because of the injury he had, was still the Lakers’ best performer with averages of 23.33, 7.16, and 8 (points-rebounds-assists).

What Now Skip Bayless?

 

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The founder and CEO of the Lebron Haters Inc., Skip Bayless, could be scratching his head wondering how on earth did the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks (113 – 103) and the Los Angeles Clippers (112 – 103 ) in their last two games.

Bayless’ placing his bet against the Lakers in those two games  stems from his hatred of Lebron James whom he fondly calls the “washed king.” The sports columnist believe there’s no way Lebron could outwork Buck’s Giannis Antetokounmpo,  the reigning NBA’s MVP, and Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard,  the NBA Final’s MVP last year. But to Bayless’ chagrin, Lebron performed better than his boys. King James had 37 points against Gianis’ 32. Giannis had more rebounds (11 to 8) but  the Lakers’ forward had more assists (8 to 6). Against Leonard whom Bayless shamelessly worships, Lebron’s stat line (points, rebounds and assists) is better too – 28, 7, & 9. In that game, Leonard had 27 points, 2 rebounds and no assist. To think that Lebron is already 35 years old (and playing on his 17 year in the NBA) while Giannis and Leonard are only 25 and 28, respectively.

Bayless criticizes the “washed king” for not playing defense but we saw how in that game against the Bucks Lebron defended well against Giannis who is much younger and taller. Giannis was bullied by King James in several occasions. Lebron played “bully basketball” in those games against the Bucks and the Clippers. He played like a man possessed in both ends of the floor.

One facet of King James’ game that Bayless usually makes fun of is his free throw. Did he notice that Lebron converted 12 of his 15 freebies against the Bucks. He also attempted from the stripes 14 times when the Lakers played the Clippers and made 12 of those.  That’s 24 out of 29 – 82.76% accuracy. Bayless could be having nightmares.

In several occasions the Fox Sports host lambasted Lebron for being afraid to drive to the hoop because he said “the washed king” was so afraid to get fouled and be embarrassed missing the free throws. That’s exactly what Lebron did in the games against the Bucks and the Clippers – he  fearlessly drove down the lane and challenged the defense. He dared his opponents to foul him and disappointed Bayless by converting his free throws.

And how Bayless has harped about Leonard as a “Lebron stopper.” Where was Leonard when Bayless needed him most to prevent Lebron from proving him wrong?

Knowing Bayless, he wouldn’t give credit for what Lebron has done for the past two games which he fearlessly forecast the Lakers would lose (he even had the sagacity to tweet that the final score of the game between the crosstown rivals would be 110-100 in favor of the Clippers). Probably he would take refuge on the fact that Lebron committed 4 turnovers against the Bucks and 2 against the Clippers. That’s just how Bayless has been (and will always be) – look for a way to discredit the “washed king.”

 

Lebron’s Greatness and Skip Bayless

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For Skip Bayless of Fox Sports 1, Lebron’s 35-15-9 (points-rebounds-assists) performance when the Cavs defeated the Celtics to capture the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference finals was not great because of his 8 turnovers in the game. That’s typical of  the said sports columnist – to always try to find a way to discredit the 4-time MVP. Bayless has seemingly made a living from bashing the Cavs’ superstar.

Plain and simple – Bayless hates Lebron so much that there is nothing the latter could do to appease him. Don’t tell that sports commentator that Lebron is the “greatest basketball player of all time” because he could give perhaps a million of reasons to prove otherwise. I am not even sure if he would concede that Lebron could be ranked at least as one of the greatest.

For me, Lebron is a great basketball player. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest. Only the blind can’t see that. I don’t like to compare him to any of the other “greats.” Identifying the basketball’s GOAT (greatest of all time) is a very subjective issue and it is not the intention of this article to weigh in on the discussion.

All I wish to do is to appreciate Lebron’s greatness. I am not an “honorable expert” in basketball like Skip Bayless, but unlike him I have lots of common sense. I am but an ordinary basketball fan who appreciates the fact that the Eastern conference Game 7 between Cleveland and Boston was the 100th game that Lebron played for the ongoing season. He played in all of the Cavs’ 82 games during the regular season. He played 7 playoff games each against the Pacers and the Celtics and 4 against the Raptors. Would you not marvel at that given the fact that Lebron is already 33 years old and playing in his 15th NBA season?

If that is not great then what could it be? That for me is an achievement in itself which  can not be negated by anything – not even by the Cavs not possibly winning the NBA championship this year.

Would you question the greatness of a player who led a team that had to go through a lot of changes and drama during the regular season all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals and win it? You would if you have a mindset like Skip Bayless’.

It’s so funny to hear an expert like Skip Bayless say that the Pacers and the Celtics were destined to fail against the Cavs because both were young teams then argue that the Raptors, a team with veteran players with playoff experiences, lost to Cavs simply because they were afraid of Lebron.

Now, don’t dare tell Skip Bayless that this is Lebron’s 8th straight NBA Finals because I am almost certain he would point out that the Cavs superstar lost 4 times in his last 7 attempts to win the NBA crown. I am afraid he would even add that Lebron is about to experience the 5th time he would fail when the Cavs face the Warriors yet again.

My standards for greatness are not as high as Skip Bayless’… or shall I say I know a little of appreciative inquiry and I have decided to apply the said principle in a personal level. I want to search for what is best in people. Instead of being negative and critical, I chose to be appreciative of what other people accomplish.

Why will I count the number of times my fellowmen fail when it is better to take into account the number of times they succeeded. It’s their success I celebrate.

What makes Lebron endearing as a competitor is no matter how many times he failed he kept trying. That for me is “greatness.” The kind of example Lebron has been showing – the way he competes, the way he takes care of his body, the way he lives his life – is worth emulating. Lebron transcends basketball. He inspires a lot of people… except Skip Bayless.

Whether Skip Bayless likes it or not, the 4 times Lebron James failed to win the NBA trophy can never erase all that he has accomplished as a basketball player and as a person.

For the fourth straight season that Lebron and the Cavs will slug it out with the heavily-favored Warriors for the NBA crown. Oddsmakers and experts are unanimous in saying that Golden State will repeat as champions. Should that happen, I will choose to remember Lebron James as the leader of the Cavs team who overcame a seemingly insurmountable 1-3 deficit to become the 2016 NBA Champions at the expense of the Warriors themselves. That I consider as Lebron James’  greatest achievement… of course Skip Bayless would disagree.

Perhaps Skip Bayless is hating Lebron on purpose – to draw attention to himself. It could be his only way to be significant as a sports analyst.

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